How to create the IKEA of sales presentations

Have you ever heard of the IKEA effect? In 2011, researchers at the Harvard Business School conducted a number of experiments which demonstrate that human beings place a higher value on things they assemble with their own labor. What’s interesting is that even if they botch the job, they value the end result more than if they did not put forth the effort to construct the item themselves.

You have no doubt seen the implications of the IKEA effect when you create sales presentations. Think about it. You have a huge takeaway opportunity and are preparing for the do-or-die committee presentation. Everyone and their mother is involved. You find yourself stuck in a heated debate with colleagues on which of the two cheesy classroom images should be dropped in the WE ARE ALL ABOUT STUDENT OUTCOMES! PowerPoint slide. This tweaking and re-tweaking of too-long bullet points and too-cliché artwork is the IKEA effect in action.

And even when the job is botched, the team values the end result.

To be clear, I am not suggesting you outsource your sales presentations. Far from it. Since each buying situation is unique, it’s critical to prepare a selling presentation that is customized to the situation. And besides, who am I to deprive you of the euphoric bliss you’ll feel when the IKEA effect cascades over you like a warm shower of pumpkin spiced latte?

You should indeed be insourcing your sales presentations. The challenge of course is that everyone wants a say, everyone wants a hand in creation. How do you develop a high-power selling presentation when the world wants to tweak it?

[Tweet “The world wants to tweak your presentation!”]

Let’s go back to IKEA. What does each piece of merchandise come with? A manual! And the manual always includes a list of essential materials, right? Same rule applies here. Your sales presentation requires the following materials:

  • Mission and purpose.
  • End-result vision.
  • Vision path.
  • Situational examples.
  • Attention-grabbers.
  • Interactors.
  • Discovery moments.
  • Next buying step.
  • Contingency plan.
  • PowerPoint (optional).

Common-sense ingredients like these act as your “bad cop.” When someone calls a congressional hearing to discuss the handshake image on slide 37, go back to your manual. What does the bad cop say? If it’s not essential material, it puts us at risk of not advancing the sale.

[Tweet “The non-essentials put our presos at risk of not advancing the sale.”]

A final point, and this is critical:

Your buyers deserve to get high on the IKEA effect too. So ask yourself this question, and tell me in the comments section: What can I do to make my audience feel like they are helping craft the presentation?

Think about it while sitting comfortably on your beautiful new POÄNG chair. It’s curved for comfort.

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